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European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, More (Sept. 24-27)

European Soccer Best Bets, Projected Odds & Forecast for Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, More (Sept. 24-27) article feature image

Christian Verheyen/Borussia Moenchengladbach via Getty Images. Pictured: Yann Sommer.

The most exciting soccer weekend of the new season is upon us, with high-profile games in almost all of Europe’s main five leagues.

In Italy, defending Serie A champion Inter Milan hosts to Atalanta, who have stumbled out of the gate in terms of performances but sit fourth in the table. Lazio and Roma renew the Rome Derby in the Stadio Olimpico, while league leader Napoli put their perfect record on the line at home against Cagliari.

Real Madrid has dominated the opening fixtures in La Liga action, but Villarreal makes a road trip to the Spanish capital to try to hand their host its first defeat.

In Germany,  Borussia Mönchengladbach has had a terrible start under new manager Adi Hütter. Now, former manager Marco Rose visits Borussia Park with Borussia Dortmund. With a total set at 3.5 goals, the game should feature plenty of open and attacking play.

Paris Saint-Germain doesn’t face a huge test at home against Montpellier in France, but perhaps the most interesting battle in Ligue 1 is between resurgent Marseille and upstart Lens. Both sides have excelled to start the season and the matchup could show who’s really mounting a top-three charge.

Below are projections from soccer analyst BJ Cunningham for the four main European leagues outside of the Premier League. If you’d like to read more about how he determines his projections, you can check it all out here.

La Liga Projections

Best Bet

Valencia vs. Athletic Bilbao

Valencia Odds +150
Bilbao Odds +195
Draw +225
Over/Under 2.5 (+120 / -150)
Day | Time Saturday | 10:15 a.m. ET
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Valencia has had an excellent start to the La Liga campaign, but they were sent back to earth in their last two matches with defeats to Real Madrid and Sevilla. They have solid underlying numbers, but not nearly as good as their league table position would indicate.

Part of that is running a bit hot, as they have a +4 goal difference and a +2 xG difference, and part is the fact they have a bunch of close games. There are signs in the early returns that Valencia is much improved from last season, but also a very real chance that’s just short term statistical noise.

Our Action Network projections show Athletic Bilbao as the better side, even playing on the road in this match. Athletic Bilbao was much better last year, has been equally as good in performances this year and shouldn’t be underdogs.

Athletic Bilbao has only lost the xG battle in one game all year and has earned deserved results with Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. They were unfortunate to concede a stoppage time winner to Rayo Vallecano earlier in the midweek. On the Draw No Bet line, they show value in this matchup.

Pick: Athletic Bilbao — Draw No Bet (-110 or better)

Serie A Projections

Best Bet

Inter Milan vs. Atalanta

Inter Milan Odds +100
Atalanta Odds +275
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-150 / +120)
Day | Time Saturday | 12 p.m. ET
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Inter Milan’s attack has been one of the best in Europe through five league matches. The Nerazzurri may have lost excellent attackers Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku, but the replacements in Joaquin Correa, Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries have easily made up the loss in production.

Only Bayern Munich is averaging more goals per match in Europe’s top-five leagues than Inter, but their attack is also a bit regression bound in upcoming fixtures. Their attack is finishing at a ridiculously unsustainable rate. And given the quality of chances, they shouldn’t have 18 goals in five matches.

They’ve almost doubled their xG total with 18 goals from 9.6 xG for so far. That kind of short-term finishing could happen to any team at any time, but because it happened early in the year for Inter, it’s seen as a baseline that they have no chance of actually maintaining throughout Serie A play.

Correa, Dzeko and Milan Skrinar have eight combined goals in league play from 2.4 xG and none of have shown any evidence of scoring at anywhere close to that rate throughout their respective careers.

On the other side, Atalanta’s shot and goal numbers have dipped considerably from their stratospheric highs of years past. Their pressing is down a bit, their shot numbers and xG numbers are down too. It could just be a blip, but La Dea have especially struggled away from Bergamo.

For that reason, I’m playing the total under three goals at -130 odds or better via the Asian Handicap as my top selection.

Pick: Total Under 3 Goals (-130 or better)

Bundesliga Projections

Best Bet

Gladbach vs. Dortmund

Gladbach Odds +310
Dortmund Odds -130
Draw +330
Over/Under 3.5 (-110 / -110)
Day | Time Saturday | 12:30 p.m. ET
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The biggest Bundesliga game this weekend is also where we go for my best bet, which is an excellent buy low spot on Gladbach at home. Since their season-opening home draw against Bayern Munich, the Foals have been terrible. A 4-0 loss to Bayern Leverkusen; 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin;  and, 1-0 loss at Augsburg have pushed Gladbach into the relegation zone.

Their performances haven’t been nearly as bad, even though the Foals only have a win against Arminia Bielefeld to date. Gladbach is 10th in xG difference despite playing the league’s toughest schedule thus far. They’ve played the Bavarians tighter than anyone else, as well as even with Leverkusen and Union away, based on the quality of the chances created.

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With Gladbach, it’s been more a run of bad variance and injuries than poor performances. They’ve only scored five goals from 8.6 xG and injuries in attack to Marcus Thuram and defense to Stefan Lainer haven’t helped Hütter’s side. Jonas Hoffman has only played about half of Gladbach’s minutes and striker Breel Embolo has barely seen the field since recovering from injury.

Embolo and Hoffman should be available in this game, and their ability to play direct and on the counterattack is the perfect antidote to breaking through Dortmund’s leaky defense. Dealing with Erling Haaland will surely be a challenge for their porous defense thus far, but the Black and Yellows are a bit overpriced away from home.

Anything plus money or better is good value on Gladbach to take a point in this showdown, plus sprinkling a little on the money line isn’t a bad bet, either.

Pick: Gladbach +0.5 (+100 or better)

Ligue 1 Projections

Best Bet

Marseille vs. Lens

Marseille Odds -125
Lens Odds +350
Draw +285
Over/Under 2.5 (-110 / -110)
Day | Time Sunday | 2:45 p.m. ET
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The most intriguing game in the French top flight takes place in the country’s second-largest city, with Lens making the trip from the north of France to Marseille for a battle of top-four teams. Marseille is unbeaten in the league with four wins and two draws, while Lens has just one defeat that came in a home loss to Strasbourg after they went down to 10 men.

Both teams have been legitimately good thus far, ranking in the top four in xGDiff and actual goal difference. Our projections show these teams to be a little closer than they actually are though, based on performances dating back to last season.

Marseille was a worse team than Lens in 2020-21, despite a higher finishing position in the league. They have been buoyed by breakout star Cheikh Ahmadou Dieng, who is unlikely to sustain his 1.07 xG per 90 standing with three league goals already in the campaign. Forward Dimitri Payet is also finishing at a rate of more than double his xG, which cannot possibly continue.

Lens has some regression indicators with players playing above their level as well, but the overall matchup shows this to be a bit closer than the betting market indicates. Marseille is rightly the home favorite, but overpriced.

That said, back Lens to get at least a point from this match.

Pick: Lens +0.5 (-110 or better)

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